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Chapter one


Emara got jolted awake from her sleep by a thunderous knock on her door. It was a knock of desperation from a frustrated man who has applied every available option to get what he desires, but could not. "Open this door, or I'll break it down", thundered Ayoka. With sleepy eyes, Emara asked, "Who is it?" "I said open this door for the last time or I will just pull down the door right now." Ayoka threatened. Before Emara could find her way to the door, Ayoka forcefully pushed the door with his right leg with all the strength he could muster, and standing face to face with Emara, he brought out his dane gun and fired a shot at her at the breast region and quickly vanished into the darkness of the night.
     Emara and Ayoka have been live-in lovers for ten years in a suburb called Ngbafor, their relationship over these years has been full of ups and down, but in the midst of these uncertainties, they have been blessed with two children Egoi and Udono, eight and five years respectively.

Ayoka is a renowned hunter in the village who is noted as one who always come back home with a big catch. This endears him to the hearts of so many maidens in the community. The maidens in their gossip have expressed their feelings thus: "Who will not want to be the wife of a great hunter who always bring home a big catch?" It was even rumoured in the community that he uses charms to attract animals to himself, because; a forest that has been combed by other hunters without any luck, when Ayoka goes there, he comes back with big games.

Ayoka has been a reserved man who does not mix freely with the female sex; he considers excessive interaction with the opposite sex as a distraction. Even in his age grade meetings, he hardly talk to girls, in spite of the fact that the age grades formed the forum for social interaction for both genders. It gives members the opportunity to exchange pleasantries, engage in friendly abuses and insults, as well as gossip one another. Insults from a member of one's age grade are not taken seriously; and members from an age could end up as husband and wife. When Ayoka finally made up his mind to settle down in marriage, his heart went after Emara, a much younger maiden. Initially Emara rebuffed him because of his muscular features, but with regular bush meats coming in from Ayoka, coupled with the poverty state of her parents, she eventually consented to the proposal.

Emara had attended the village primary school and had come out with distinction because she was a brilliant girl. She had hoped that she she will proceed to the secondary school, but her parents were very poor, and could not afford to sponsor her secondary education. Now with much pressure coming from Ayoka, she had no choice but to succumb to him. For Ayoka had promised to take care of Emara by giving her the best life could offer. He had even promised to train her in secondary school because; Emara had insisted that she would only get married after her secondary education. In his effort to woo her, he had promised her heaven and earth.
Armed with this assurance, Emara moved in with Ayoka. Two years later, Egoi was born without the bride being paid, and nothing said about Emara going back to school. After the birth of her first child, Emara had given up the hope of going back to school, what occupied her mind was how the bride price would be paid to legitimize her marriage. When Emara confronted the 'husband' about the issue, he told her, "Don't worry adon, as soon as I make enough money, I will go and see your people, and the necessary customs and tradition will be performed."

Emara remained calm in anticipation that Ayoka will fulfill his promises. She gets herself busy with her petty trading of buying and selling of garri, idani and okra within the community and neighbouring villages. With the little profit from the business, she supports the husband and they were able to erect a mud house for themselves with corrugated zinc, because, the one Ayoka was living in had collapsed. With no parents, and being an only child, Ayoka worked hard to cater for his needs. And he considers himself lucky to have a woman like Emara who supports him greatly. Udono was born three years after Egoi, and the bride price of their mother was still yet to be paid.


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